Microsoft issued software patches to close the vulnerability in its operating systems two months ago, but many computer systems around the world have not yet been updated, or instead rely on older equipment that remains vulnerable to attack.
As the malware that affected the National Health Service (NHS) England hospitals continues to spread across various parts of the world, Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity company based in Moscow, has published a blog post in which it estimates that 45,000 attacks have been carried out in 74 countries, mostly in Russian Federation.
"Once a single computer in a network is affected with WannaCry, the program looks for other vulnerable computers in the network and infects them as well", the organisation said.
Only a small number of USA -headquartered organizations were hit because the hackers appear to have begun the campaign by targeting organizations in Europe, said Vikram Thakur, research manager with security software maker Symantec.
"We were the target of an attack, like what is happening in all of Europe, a large scale-attack, but none of our services were affected", a Portugal Telecom spokeswoman told Reuters.
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In Spain, some big firms took pre-emptive steps to thwart ransomware attacks following a warning from the National Cryptology Center of "a massive ransomware attack". The interior ministry said on its website that around 1,000 computers had been infected but it had localized the virus.
Some said the attacks highlighted the need for agencies like the NSA to disclose security flaws so they can be patched. The agency did not identify those countries. When asked to confirm that Wana Decryptor has struck in the US, and at what scale, Acting Deputy Press Secretary Scott McConnell did not provide specifics. It said the company was working with its customers to provide additional assistance. "Information shared with DHS as part of these efforts, including whether a request has been made, is confidential".
"This is big: around the world, doctors and nurses are scrambling to treat patients without their digital records or prescription dosages, ambulances are being rerouted, and millions of people's data is potentially exposed". You don't have to be there.
China's official Xinhua news agency said some secondary schools and universities had been affected, without specifying how many or identifying them.
Rudd said the government did not know if the attack was directed by a foreign government.
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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has written a letter to Mr Hunt, saying concerns were repeatedly flagged about the outdated computer systems.
Chris Wysopal, of the software security firm Veracode, said criminal organisations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.
Ms Robison chaired a Scottish government resilience meeting at 07:00 on Saturday and said there was a "level of confidence" that systems would be back up and running by Monday and that no breach of patient confidentiality had been detected.
The attack has spread across the NHS in England and Scotland causing huge delays and disruption. "That work is still ongoing", she told BBC radio.
The problem erupted around 12:30 p.m. local time, the IT worker says, with a number of email servers crashing.
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"According to our data, the ransomware is mainly being targeted to Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan, but the ransomware has successfully infected major institutions, like hospitals across England and Spanish telecommunications company, Telefonica". Other services soon went down, and then, the unidentified NHS worker says, a "bitcoin virus pop-up message" started taking over computer screens.
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